Tag Archives: yeast

How to Make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon rollsI love Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Have you ever woken up in the morning and just craved a cinnamon roll? Most people have at one point or another.  Even Lemony Snicket was once quoted as saying ‘Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.’  And, well, if Lemony Snicket says it, then it must be true.  I remember when I was in high school and it was a really big deal for me to get the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and bake them off before driving to school.  I would eat it, still hot, while turning into the school parking lot and savor that gooey sweetness. Then five minutes later, I would have a sugar crash in homeroom.  As I got older, I yearned to make my own cinnamon rolls and once I graduated from culinary school I had really learned how.  The process we used in culinary school had a few more steps so I have developed a quicker version for those who are impatient to begin eating immediately!!!  But before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about why so few of us take the trouble to make cinnamon rolls.  More commonly than not it is because people are scared of yeast

How does yeast work and why is it so scary?

For those of you who do not already know, yeast is a microorganism of the class, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  Yeast is also very hungry which means it needs to be fed.  It consumes sugar and then gives off carbon dioxide and alcohol.  Yeast loves temperatures right around 90 degrees F and, in fact, it thrives at this temperature.  By combining yeast with a warm liquid and a bit of sugar it will grow and be happy and make your yeast products rise and become fluffy and tasty.  But if you should happen to kill your yeast by exposing it to temperatures over 120 degrees F then the yeast will be quite grumpy and sad and your cinnamon rolls will be hard lumpy hockey pucks. Grumpy yeast is what people are more scared of than anything.   But not to fear! I will teach you some easy simple methods for ensuring that your yeast is always happy and stays happy throughout the baking process.

Dough Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups all purpose flour, have more on hand if needed
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 package rapid rise yeast (7 g)
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a stand mixer bowl (flour, salt, sugar, yeast). Using the dough hook attachment, mix for 15 seconds until combined.  Heat milk to about 90 degrees in the microwave. You should be able to comfortable slide your pinky finger into the liquid and it feels warm and pleasant (like a bath) and not scalding hot.  If you burn your finger the milk is definitely too hot!
  2. Add milk, eggs and vanilla paste to mixture. Combine slowly for about 1 minute and then crank the mixer up to medium speed and mix for about 4 minutes.  Add the softened butter and mix until the butter gets absorbed into the dough (about 1 minute).  Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.  The dough should be sticky but it should not be mush in the bowl.  If it is not forming a nice round ball then you should keep mixing.
  3. Scrape the bowl down (dough included) and sprinkle flour on top of and underneath the dough to prevent it from sticking.
  4. Now you need to cover the dough and put it in a warm place to rise. (An unlighted oven, near a warm sunny window, etc. Treat the dough like it is a living thing because it is!!! If the environment where you are placing your dough feels too hot for you than it is probably too hot for the dough. Again, ideal temperatures need to be around 90 and should stay around 90 throughout this process. That’s not to say that it can’t get a bit cooler (it will just slow the yeast growth).  But it definitely should not ever get hotter than 120 degrees F.  This will keep your yeast happy.  And remember, happy yeast = fluffy cinnamon rolls.
  5. Allow the yeast to double in volume for 1 to 2 hours. This is rest time for you but activity time for your yeast because it is going to grow and grow and consume sugar and turn it into fluffy dough.  What should you do for those 2 hours?

Activites to Do While Yeast is Rising

  1. Constantly and nervously check on the yeast every 15 minutes to make sure it is rising. (I am guilty of this myself)
  2. Go for a long run so you can neutralize the calories you will shortly ingest from your homemade cinnamon roll.
  3. Do one and a half loads of laundry.
  4. Clean your home.
  5. Get on Facebook and tell everyone how you are making cinnamon rolls for the first time. Yay!

You can also make your Cinnamon Filling!!!!

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon.

Combine all ingredients together in a mixer and whip with the paddle attachment until soft and fluffy.

Finishing Your Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Remove dough from its warm resting place and punch it down with your fist. Roll the dough out into a long rectangle until it is about ¼ inch thick.
  2. Spread the cinnamon filling you just made all over your dough.
  3. Roll the dough long-ways into a log and pinch the seam tightly together. Use a sharp knife to cut the cinnamon rolls as big or as small as you like.
  4. Grease a 9 by 9 metal tin with butter or Canola spray and lay the cinnamon rolls cut side down into the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until poofy. About 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until brown sugar is bubbling and cinnamon roll is golden brown.

Make Icing While Cinnamon Rolls are Baking

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water (or more) if icing is not fluid.
  1. Combine sugar and water in a bowl and stir rapidly with a spoon to form an icing. You can add more sugar to make it thicker or more water to make it thinner.

Finish the Cinnamon Rolls

While the cinnamon rolls are still hot from the oven, drizzle the icing all over them with a spoon.  And you now have a homemade cinnamon roll. Congratulations! If your yeast is being naughty or you have any questions about how to make yeast products please let me know!

cinnamon roll

cinnnamon roll

Kouign Amann: A Yeast Pastry Fit for Queens!

I first sighted the Kouign Amann when I was working in Apple Pie Bakery at the Culinary Institute of America.  When I was a baking and pastry student at school we were required to work 3 weeks front of house and 3 weeks back of house at the resident bakery, Apple Pie.  I loved working back of house because I was in charge of stocking pastries with one of my good friends.  We had a blast making up silly names for the pastries and racing around to beat each other filling orders. We had to initiate what are know as “call-backs”.  When you work in a kitchen and you have 5 or less of a product remaining it is customary to shout out “5 insert-name-of-pastry left!”  Your partner has to call back that pastry name and amount.  This process ensures that your counterpart heard you in what is frequently, a busy and loud, kitchen.  The first time my friend saw the Kouign Amann’s stocked in the pastry case she shouted out “5 Quiggins!!!!” I busted out laughing.  We had no idea how to pronounce the name of the dessert.  To this day it is hard for me to look at a Kouign Amann and not call it a Quiggin, which frankly sounds like a dessert out of a Harry Potter novel.

This lovely sweet laminated pastry is actually pronounced Queen a-Mahn and is buttery and beautiful. The name for this fluffy pastry comes from the Breton words for cake “kouign” and butter “amann  The dessert originated in Brittany, France and tastes a bit like a danish but lighter.  It has a delightful layer of caramelized sugar that crusts over on the top and bottom of the pastry when it is baked.  If you have ever made puff pastry, you will take to this recipe very easily. And even if you haven’t you can still make this dessert following the recipe below.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yest
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cold, salted butter
1 cup of sugar

 

MAKING THE KOUIGN AMANN

1. In Kitchen Aid stand mixer combine the flour and salt and mix for 15 seconds on low.  Combine 1 cup of water with active dry yeast and allow to set for 5 minutes.  If the yeast bubbles up then add yeast/water mixture to flour.  If not, the yeast is inactive and you will need a fresh packet.  Combine ingredients on low until the dough comes together in a round ball and then mix on medium speed for 5-6 minutes using a dough hook.  The dough should come together and be tacky but not too sticky.  If the dough is too sticky add flour slowly until it gets to the right consistency.

2. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes at room temperature. Then allow it to continue to rise another 30 minutes in refrigeration.   Prepare cupcake/muffin tin (that makes 12) by melting butter and brushing butter in the tin.

3. While the dough is in the fridge pound the butter on a flat counter top.  Dust the counter with flour and coat the butter on all sides with flour.  Pound it gently but firmly using a wooden rolling pin until it is soft and malleable.

4. Remove dough from fridge and roll it out until it is the width of the rolling pin and the length of two rolling pins (in other words small rectangle).  Pound the butter until it is slightly smaller than half the size of the dough.  Cut it so that it just fits in the dough with the edges showing.  Place the pounded butter on top of the dough and fold the other half of the dough over the butter like a sandwich.  The butter should fit in the dough tightly but you should still have ample room to fold up the dough on all sides so that it is sealed in.

5. Flour the counter again and place the dough on the counter so that the folded edge is facing to the left like a book. Roll out the dough until it is again the length of two rolling pins.  Fold the dough like a letter in thirds.  Turn the dough 90 degrees, so that the spine (or folded edge) is again to the left and roll the dough out again to the same size and then fold it again like a letter.

6. Refrigerate the dough for 30-40 minutes.

7. Remove dough from fridge and again complete two “turns” as explained in step 5 except sprinkle half a cup of sugar on the dough each time before the dough is folded in thirds.

8. Refrigerate the dough for 30-40 minutes.

9. Dust the counter with sugar and roll out the dough until it is 8 in by 24 in.  Cut the dough in half so that each strip is 4 inches in length and then cut both strips into 4 inch squares.  Dust the dough liberally with more sugar.

10. Optionally fill each dough pocket with about a tablespoon of jam.  I highly recommend this! Although you can feel the dough with anything you like.

Kouign Amann
Kouign Amann waiting to be filled with jam

11. Fold the corners in for each square piece of dough so that it forms a dough pocket.  Gently stuff each square piece into the muffin tin.  The edges of each kouign amann may come out of over the edges or get crumpled. This is ok!

Kouign Amann
Kouign Amann waiting to rise

 

12. Cover the tins with a towel and allow to rise about 40 minutes.

13. Bake the kouign amman about 40 minutes at 350 F convection or until they are a rich golden brown.  Turn the kouign amann out immediately when baked so they easily unmold from the muffin pan.

14. Eat and enjoy!!! And don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need any assistance.  Laminated doughs can be tricky the first time around!

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